Robert Stout had a full agenda going into the final Grand Am event of the season held at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course last weekend.
For the first time in his young career he was competing in both the Rolex series behind the wheel of the #28 LG Motorsports MAVTV / ReadyLIFT Corvette in the GT class and his season long ride in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series GS category in the #62 Mitchum Motorsports Lucas Oil / Makita Tools / Fatheadz Eyewear / E3 Spark Plugs / Rockstar Energy Drink Chevrolet Camaro..
Stout first qualified the #62 car in GS, the field was 39 cars deep with everyone gunning for the pole. Unfortunately last minute cloud coverage and a drop in temperature would change everything. Stout still pulled off a starting position on the inside of row 7 but had his work cut out for him.
Fans showed up by the thousands to get pictures and autographs from their favorite drivers and then watch them do battle on the famed track.
The start of the race was one of the most impressive of the season. With the addition of 31 cars in the Street Tuner class, there were 70 cars total on track. The first turn saw no less than four rows of three wide action as all 70 cars got through cleanly and the 2.5 hour race was on.
The Mitchum Camaros at the start.
Stout started methodically picking his way through the field of talented GS drivers and by the end of his hour and fifteen-minute stint was up to 8th. Unfortunately a small mistake of merely 3 inches would cost the team some track position.
äóìI felt terrible for Joeyäó, said Stout. äóìIt was the first time I had missed a perfect stop all season. Fortunately he is a talented and very fast teammate and worked his way back into the top 10äó.
While Stout nailed the pit stall the angle of the car was off just enough that the fuel hose didn"t reach properly but with quick work by the Mitchum team they refueled the car and co-driver Joey Atterbury was on his way.
Joey was now sitting 22nd but was determined to get to the front. By the end of the race Atterbury had passed 15 cars working his way back up to 7th. Including the 5 cars Stout had passed the two young guns had driven passed 20 of the best sports car drivers in the country and earned their 5th top 10 of the season.
Race 1 of the day was in the books.
Less than two hours later was the start of the Rolex Series EMCO Gears Classic and this time Robert Stout would be behind the wheel of a GT car for the first time in his career.
With an outstanding qualifying effort that landed him on the inside of row 4 Stout had already impressed plenty of drivers and team owners.
At the drop of the green flag Stout again went to work settling into 7th and biding his time.
äóìWe started the race on scrubbed tires so I was just waiting for the first five or six laps to go by knowing the cars in front of me would start to fall off a bitäó, Stout said.
On lap 3 Stout moved into 6th and by lap 8 was up to 5th where he maintained for the first 25 minutes of the race. After a pit stop for fuel Stout came back out in 16th place and on lap 15 started an impressive run to the front of the GT field. By lap 28 the talented young man was sitting in the top three with justifiable hopes of a top 5 finish at days end.
Again the LG Motorsports crew brought him in for a pit stop, this time it was for fresh tires and a full load of fuel. Stout was set for another hour-long stint and then would hand the car off to season long co-driver Jeff Bucknum.
Unfortunately the hand off would never happen. Stout who was behind the 40 car never had a chance when he entered the high speed blind right hand turn 9. On the back side of the hill sat the #30 Racers Edge car that had spun out and was sitting in the middle of the track.
Click on the link to see the wreck: http://youtu.be/3RJI4CTEzgA
Stout said, äóìJoe Foster in the #40 car barely missed him but was blocking my view of him. By the time I saw him it was just to late. I yanked the wheel as quickly as I could and almost pulled it off but ended up clipping him with the left rear. It was DejaVu as I had the same thing happen in the same spot two years ago. It is a very dangerous spot on this track. Hopefully they will install a caution light over head for us in the future because you just can"t see the corner workers in that spot. I feel terrible for Lou and the guys , MAVTV, the gang at ReadyLift along with Jeff who never got a chance. They gave me a great car and we had a solid shot at a top five today. All in all I think we turned a few heads this weekend so hopefully more opportunities will come along for 2012äó.
It was a solid first outing in GT for Stout but ended early. He showed he has the talent to sling a GT car around with the best of them. He went side by side with the top drivers in the class and never touched anybody nor did he dip a wheel off the track.
There were no shortage of drivers and team owners at the end of the event that shook his hand and said, äóìGreat Jobäó.
It's all tail lights for the 2011 season now Stout sets his sights on 2012 as he prepares for another run at a Grand Am Championship!
You can catch all the action from the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series EMCO Gears Classic this Saturday on SPEED at 12:00 EST.